The breakneck rate at which information is created, processed, packaged and communicated widely exceeds the rate at which individuals can absorb it, contributing to a constant struggle to transform data into actionable knowledge. One reason for this is that even though we live and work in an information age, our information is processed and managed in a manner that recalls the industrial age, especially in terms of an assembly line sequence of processing stages. Although significant advances have been made in the areas of distributed computation and parallel processing, most legacy information applications still operate in a linear fashion, creating "processed information" in isolated stages, the same way that cars are manufactured. This factory-style processing creates artificial barriers to the effective use of information, leading to lost opportunities and decreased competitiveness.

Alternatively, some organizations are moving toward a more knowledge-centric view where information is seen as a critical corporate asset that can be used to significant competitive and strategic advantage. This signals the migration from an industrial age view of data to a knowledge age view, where many data sets are aggregated, fused, enhanced and broadcast to share an enterprise-wide knowledge base. In this article, we will look at the barriers to exploiting the value of the corporate information asset and how to evolve from the data dark ages into a knowledge age organization.

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